I read the book when I was 17, summer between 11th and 12th grade in 91. Sex, violence, pop music critiques, what wasn’t there for a boy to love? Well, it turns out most everything.
I didn’t miss the satire, I got it, and I saw the absurdity, and yet when I finished the book I still wondered what the point was.
Nine years later the movie comes out and just from morbid curiosity I went to see it. I didn’t dislike it as much as the book, I loved the opening credits. Then it was all down hill from there.
I’m not a fan of Bale so that didn’t help, but as I was walking out of the theatre I thought the same thing as when I was closing the book, I just didn’t see the point.
So, the question is is American Psycho a quality film? What can we take away from seeing it?
American Psycho is a social satire on the 1980’s yuppie lifestyle in new york where surface transcends morality.
The book is very amusing and qualitative in its own right. The film, like you said, carries a mind-blowing opening (very similar to the opening of Mommie dearest) but after that its all down-hill.
What I take away from the film is the scary fact that Bateman re-invents himself with every occasion, and as best summed up when removing his facial mask, he has no real sense of self, whatsoever except for that there is a lack of self, there is something missing, there is nothing enate that he can fall back on, he is essentially a complete vacuum, the result of greed/materialism, etc.
maybe easton ellis is a buddhist?
There’s always a better business card.
I thought the film was crap, and as with the OP, felt an overwhelming sense of “So what?” when the credits rolled.
I saw nothing special about Bale’s performance. In principle, I have no beef with actors who go for cartoonish, one-note caricature when playing a soulless zombie; I don’t think Bale should have made Bateman more likeable or identifiable. I just don’t think he made him an interesting, original or funny cartoon. In general I think Bale’s acting boils down to a bit of all-purpose scowling intensity, a basic competence with accents, and some weird masochism about gaining and losing vast amounts of weight. In American Psycho, the affected voice he uses, the arch line readings, the facial expressions all suggest to me an actor whose talent is much shallower than it’s credited with.
I think Bale’s performance and Bret Easton Ellis’ source material (which I already disliked) are equally to blame for setting a poor tone in the film, making everything too literal and heavy-handed to work as satire. But I also found Mary Harron’s direction flat, anonymous and weirdly unconfident. She lays on the archness with a shovel, just in case we were too stupid to get that it was a critique of 80s materialism, corporate greed, masculinity and so on. I think what you’re left with is a film that isn’t really scary, isn’t really funny, doesn’t really say much about anything, and is just a bit camp for no special reason. “But it’s supposed to be…” – Yeah yeah, I get it! ;)
I disliked the book but really enjoyed the movie. The book was just too dull—lists of suits, lists of stero equipment, etc. But the movie, I think, went more for laughs than anyone here seems to think. It’s a very funny dark comedy, but not for everyone.
At one point Oliver Stone was set to direct with Dicaprio in the lead. Dicaprio decided to make THE BEACH instead. Think Stone/Dicaprio could have made a better film?
Centaur and I seem to agree wholeheartedly
The book’s ridiculous amount of detail is supposed to make the reader think, “Christ, is this all this man ever fucking does?” I think Bale definitely made Bateman funnier and almost likeable, but a lot was left out in the movie (in the book he kills a child, and more people in far more horrifying ways) so I think that made the character a bit easier for Bale to play. I don’t think Bateman is a “soulless zombie” and he needs, practically requires, a shallow actor to play him. This is the only movie I’ve ever seen where I’ve liked Christian Bale, and there are a ton of other actors who could’ve played this part because it’s really easy to play. I think the fact that he took a very predictable step in playing Bateman (the tone of voice, the smirk, the strained emotions) make Bale’s acting perfect for the role.
Interesting, and I don’t disagree about Tom Cruise being psycho
I wonder if Christian Bale’s recent inspiration for his roles is bad acting.
There is a certain subculture that American Psycho satirizes as competently as any film I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the whole thing’s a bit esoteric: I don’t blame anyone for not liking this, as when I first saw it, I found it a bit silly as well. But watching it now, having been in similar situations, there is nothing like it. It’s a borderline masterpiece of a neglected, often misunderstood (but necessary) part of capitalist society.
I personally quite enjoyed the book. While I found Bale’s interpretation of Bateman overall decent, I felt that the film didn’t affect me the same way the book did. Obviously, there were a lot of things that were left out of the film that were part of the book that made the book way more disturbing, but I think I found the satire to be much more poignant in the book. Then again, the book isn’t really a quick read, so it had the ability to draw out the character and the satire, as opposed to condensing it into film format. I think that part of what made the book great for me was the pacing. The longer the book goes on, the more interested I became in Bateman’s evolution. I think the film worked as a decent adaptation, but it just wasn’t enough for me. Though I did appreciate the “this is not an exit” sign behind Bale in the last shot of the film.
-American Psycho is a social satire on the 1980’s yuppie lifestyle in new york where surface transcends morality-
It’s partly that, yeah, but it’s also a satire of male narcissism and fetishism.
I really think that the observation of “so what?” is probably the most accurate phrase to describe my feelings after that movie was done. I definitely understood the satire, but it all just left me wanting more. Maybe he wasn’t AS psycho as I wanted, maybe the satire didn’t feel strong enough, or maybe it wasn’t nearly as violent as I expected… I’m not sure what it was, but I’m not a real big fan. It’s mediocre in my books.
I honestly think that American Psycho the book is one of the most hilarious things I have ever read. i couldn’t go a single page without cracking up. The film affects me in a similar way albeit not quite as hilarious. Still though, the scene with the business cards is one of the funniest things I have seen written or filmed. There were so many things that the film could have added and I am not talking just about sex and violence. There is a part in the book where Bateman takes a urinal cake and covers it in Godiva chocolate and puts it in a Godiva box and gives it to his fiance. She eats the whole thing right there in front of him despite it being disgusting because of course it has the “Godiva” label. Also there are tons of little details like the talk show that gets progressively more bizarre. In fact throughout the book Bateman becomes more and more deranged and begins to hallucinate some really bizarre things. I would have loved to adapt this to film. Bateman was perfect though…
I think the film started strong but ended as just plain out of control. I enjoyed it though and thought Christian Bale was fine. I liked the oddball supporting cast too: Chloe Svegny, Willem Dafoe; Reese Witherspoon (totally oblivious to Bale’s sheningans).
Nevetheless, I liked Mary Harron’s I SHOT ANY WARHOL a lot more.
Who cares about quality? if you don’t laugh with this film you honestly have a real problem with your life.
American Psycho is in actuality not about violence. That’s just a part of Patrick Bateman’s alter-ego. It’s about his character and lifestyle and how trapped he becomes through totally surrendering to the consumerist void lying in front of him. Also in the book people complain about the wealth of detail and so on. Well it’s written like that so as to mirror Bateman’s world and the culture which has blotted out his personality and sense of self. He transmogrifies into a walking advertisement. Nevertheless a very misunderstood, complex and important satirical book/film which says a lot about society and its flaws (such as Capitalism, surface, greed, etc) with Bateman as a backdrop for everything that disgusts him and drives him to madness and turn his empty life into a tragedy.
I utterly disagree with you Hazel Hills. No other actor could have played Bateman like Christian Bale. No one. He was PERFECTLY suited for the role and no it’s not an easy role to play. I personally responded to his performance with glee. Bombastic, cooly funny and wonderfully executed
This movie is about the 80s but it seems a better criticism of the 00s. A perfect portrait of the one-per-centers. Romney has the exact same psychotic stare as Bateman.
There was a photo taken by an AP photographer years ago, where Romney was looking toward the camera and straight looked like Satan. It was only up on the AP site for a short while before being taken down and unfortunately I didn’t download it.
They look so similar.. omg…
Yeah, that’s the Patrick Bateman I saw when I read the novel, much more than Christian Bale. I’m not a particular fan of the film, and I won’t be seeing anything Bale ever does ever again if I can avoid it and I’ll do my damnedest that’s for sure. The film made overt a couple of things that the novel keeps vague — the whole question of exactly how much of Bateman’s criminal activity really happens.
A strange book, I can remember the outcry when it was published. All those weird looks I got on the subway when I laughed while reading it.
Ellis claims the murders are real otherwise they have no impact. the ending of the film suggests that it might have all been in the character’s head.
movie was good but a little flat. Novel has a brilliant central character and a confident voice but it it too damn long for what it is imo.
There are parts of the novel that rather suggest that the murders are all in the character’s head, too, but it is certainly possible that they’re real.
“…and I won’t be seeing anything Bale ever does ever again if I can avoid it and I’ll do my damnedest that’s for sure.”
Wow, that’s harsh. Did he kill your first-born?
Nope. He’s just been really embarassingly bad lately.
That photo is hilarious. if we had the sunglasses from They Live we’d surely see aliens.
Just in time for Election Day . . .